The new partnership will see Safaricom subscribers exchange 28,000 Bonga points for a one way ticket — and 40,000 for a return ticket — to fly economy on any of the four domestic routes served by KQ, including Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi and Eldoret.
But the subscribers will have to spend Sh280,000 on airtime to qualify for the 28,000 points given a credit of Sh100 earns 10 points.
Previously customers were restricted to redeeming their points on Safaricom products, including airtime, data and devices available in the firm’s retail centres.
“Customers are demanding for more, they want more choices,” said Safaricom’s chief executive Bob Collymore during the unveiling of the programme at the KQ headquarters.
Since the launch of the loyalty programme six years ago, Safaricom customers have earned more than 50 billion Bonga points. To date 82 per cent have been redeemed, valued at Sh8.5 billion.
Customers earn one point for every Sh10 spent on voice calls, SMS, Internet and some chargeable M-Pesa transactions.
Mr Collymore said there are more than 9.5 billion Bonga points on Safaricom’s network system, adding that new offerings like the KQ deal will unlock the royalty.
Bonga points are one of the products Safaricom is using to defend its dominance in Kenya’s mobile telephony business. Its market share based on voice traffic stood at 77.5 per cent in December. Airtel’s share was at 12.5 per cent, Orange (1.4per cent) and Yu (8.6 per cent).
For KQ, such deals will strengthen its domestic business, which continues to register growth. Kenya Airways passenger numbers remained flat at 828, 032 in the three months to December compared to a growth of 5.2 per cent in a similar quarter in 2011. Domestic passenger numbers in the quarter to December increased by 4.3 per cent to 189,514.
A growing middle class opting to fly as opposed to road transport, and the fall of Jetlink, has seen the airline increase capacity on domestic routes. The carrier has invested capacity on the Mombasa and Kisumu routes to tap into the growing demand.
Going ahead, the partnership will extend beyond the domestic routes into the region.
“We could open to the rest of Africa in the future as we continue investing in the region,” said Kenya Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni.
In 2009, the two companies partnered to offer customers a ticket payment solution. KQ customers can pay for their tickets using M-Pesa for a ticket worth less than or equivalent to Sh140,000, inclusive of tax.